Many of the greatest people in history, like Aristotle, Da Vinci, Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Winston Churchill, Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, Neil Armstrong, Pel, (and the list can go on) have one thing in common:
They were/are left-handed.
And according to scientists, this may not be a coincidence.
In a world that is dominated by the right hand, left-handed people often find themselves forced to adapt to certain items which force them to use their right hand. This, it turns out, has given them the advantage of becoming superior in information processing.
First, to understand how a lefty functions, you need to understand hand preference is a result of the function of the brain and is thus related to cognition.
Many left-handed people have a more developed right brain hemisphere. This gives them the upper hand in processes such as spatial reasoning and the ability to mentally rotate representations of objects.
Another thing lefties have shown to possess is a larger corpus callosum. This is the bundle of nerves that connects the two brain hemispheres. It means that this increased connectivity between their hemispheres allow them to process information at a superior level.
While the reason behind this is unclear, it has been speculated that their adaptation to a right-hand dominated world has caused this increased connectivity between their hemispheres.
Left-handedness and mathematics
Another widely discussed topic among scientists has been the notion that left-handed people excel in mathematics. A study published in Frontiers examined this by carrying out a series of experiments on 2,300 primary and high school students.
In this study, the participants were given the option to choose on the extent to which they use their left or right hand, such as when drawing, writing, throwing, brushing, and other things. The research team wanted to know if the participants were combining the use of their hands, or used exclusively their dominant hand.
Image Credit: Denise Krebs
In the experiments, they gave the participants a series of mathematical tasks ranging from simple arithmetic to difficult problem-solving tasks, such as associating mathematical functions to a given set of data.
The results showed that while there was no difference in hand preference when the task was not so demanding, the left-handed participants excelled in the difficult problem-solving tasks.
They also found that extreme right-handers performed worse in all scenarios when compared to those who used their right hand moderately and those who were left-handed.
Their findings have led to the conclusion that left-handed people do have an advantage in solving complex mathematical tasks and that handedness does affect cognition to a certain extent.
As for the connectivity between the hemispheres, even right-handed people could start adapting their left hand for certain uses.